Book Recommendation: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
As I’ve told you all before, I underwent surgery in early 2015 to remove endometrial tissue from my pelvic area. Like many women before me and many who will follow, I had dealt with pain, discomfort, and heavy bleeding for years before actually being diagnosed with endometriosis. My menstrual-related migraines got increasingly worse over the years, and since endometriosis left me with heavier bleeding and more days of it, my ability to live life fully was really affected.
It’s easy to find out basic information about endometriosis online, and—mainly thanks to this site, which I rely on daily—it’s good to know there’s an online resource chock full of information about migraine. But sometimes the best way to really understand what you’re going through is to find a book dedicated to the subject.
That’s not to say that Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health is a go-to guide for either endometriosis or migraine. Rather, it’s a meticulously researched but easily accessible book that actually explains how women’s bodies work. It’s brimming with basic building blocks of information about our own bodies, information we may or may not have ever really learned before.
Several friends of mine sought out this book while trying to start a biological family: they were having a little trouble conceiving and had heard Weschler’s book was a powerful tool in that situation. When I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I went to the local library and ended up pulling this book from the stacks even though I mainly wanted to learn about menstrual cycles and endometriosis, not tips for how to conceive. (At first I thought this book wouldn’t help me—I was focused on the main title of the book, assuming it wasn’t for my situation, when I should’ve paid better attention to the last two words of the subtitle: “reproductive health.”)
If you’re a woman who has had undue suffering as a result of abnormalities with your cycle or if you have menstrual-related migraine, I highly recommend you shelve this book alongside Dr. Susan Hutchinson’s incomparable The Woman’s Guide to Managing Migraine. It can of course also help you work through a variety of other hurdles, but I’m currently most interested in how I can actually learn what my body is doing day-by-day.
Like most of you, I suffered through sex ed classes when I was middle-school-aged. I learned about my menstrual cycle in health class and through awkward (for me, at least) conversations with my mom, and I pieced together answers to mysteries with friends. But, after my teen years, there was no further education, and I just assumed I knew everything about my cycle.
Last night as I read Weschler’s book, I had about ten a-ha! moments when reading the chapter on basic biology, anatomy, and the process of the monthly cycle in women. I learned how to chart my cycle day by day, and I now know that once I have done so for a few months, I’ll be able to very accurately predict when I’m ovulating and when my period will start.
Why does anything in that last paragraph matter here on a site dedicated to migraine? Well, it’s because I know my migraine frequency and severity have a strong link to my menstrual cycle, but after 20-plus years of having both periods and migraines, I have never actually taken the steps to really understand the connection between the states of my cycle and my migraine patterns. I feel like having Taking Charge of Your Fertility in my personal library is going to allow me to start what I finished when reading Dr. Hutchinson’s The Woman’s Guide to Managing Migraine: I can use the former to very accurately predict when I will ovulate and then bleed, and I can use the latter to take steps to control the migraines that occur at each of those stages as hormones shift dramatically.
Do any of you women out there chart your menstrual cycles? What have you learned? Has any book in particular helped you learn better how your own body works so you can predict and perhaps even avoid what used to seem like an unavoidable migraine?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?